YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Youngstown School Board met Tuesday evening for the first time since the announcement that the district will be divided into neighborhood schools. There was some support for the plan, but there was also a lot of criticism.
Tammi Givens, a parent, started off the meeting by asking that her son not be required to move from Chaney to East High for his senior year.
“To move him now would be pretty bad because he’d have to leave all his friends.”
Youngstown Schools CEO Krish Mohip unveiled the reconfiguration plan last week. He said it will bring pride back to the schools and reduce time students spend on the bus.
The proposed changes will convert the district’s elementary and middle schools into nine Pre-K through 8th grade facilities. The buildings for Harding, Kirkmere, Williamson, Wilson, Taft, Paul C. Bunn, McGuffey, Volney Rogers, and Martin Luther King, Jr. will be split as feeder schools for East and Chaney high schools.
“It doesn’t appear to me to be of enough benefit to put the district through this kind of upheaval right now,” said board member Dario Hunter.
On the other hand, Jackie Adair said she told Mohip neighborhood schooling was a good idea.
However, she joined others in questioning the plan to move the successful Youngstown Early College from Youngstown State to the building that currently houses the board offices.
“To dismantle something that works, I think is just ludicrous,” said Board President Brenda Kimble.
Ron Shadd spoke about Monday’s protest by Chaney students who were upset their school will no longer be focused on STEM and visual and performing arts.
“I just wished that they would have had an opportunity to share what their opinions were prior to this rollout,” Shadd said.
Jerome Williams was not happy Mohip didn’t consult the school board.
“It appears to me that a lot of the people who are making the plans, elected officials, may not know some of the history that our district went through,” he said.
At one point, Mohip tried speaking but was told the meeting was for board members only.
Afterward, he defended Youngstown Early College’s move, saying it’ll allow three times the students to participate. He brought out an 800-page document outlining his plan and said not one board member showed up for any of the public meetings.
“I understood. I heard everything they said. Unfortunately, sometimes you can say things and really not back it up with any sort of facts or even common sense in some of those comments.”
Three of the school board members — Jerome Williams, Dario Hunter, and Jackie Adair — also criticized Youngstown City Council and the city administration for agreeing to decreases in property taxes — much of which goes to the city schools.